From North Uist all the way to Colorado

young person in a highland dancing outfit waving a saltire flag
young person in a highland dancing outfit waving a saltire flag

September marked a great achievement and once in a lifetime experience for one of our young islanders, Uibhisteach and keen Highland dancer Keira (20) from Lochmaddy was selected to be one of only 20 dancers to perform in the Estes Park International Tattoo 2023. One of 5 dancers from Scotland Keira made her way to the far away land of Colorado, USA, a journey that took her almost 48 hours (Benbecula to Glasgow, Glasgow to Edinburgh, Edinburgh to Chicago, then finally Chicago to Denver.

A Tattoo (not the skin type) was originally a form of military music or display of armed forces, now it has evolved into more elaborate shows involving theatrics and musical performances- often including Highland dancers and pipe bands. For example, The Royal Edinburgh Miltary Tattoo, taking place every August is the largest of its kind in the world.

Alongside other dancers from across Canada and America, Keira performed within the International Tattoo as well as the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival held at the same park during the day. With the Americans decked out in Tartan, the clan tents and stages named after different Scottish Islanders, it was basically home from home- perhaps minus the 38 degree heat.

Arriving in Denver Airport on September 2nd, Kiera had a couple of days to explore the city before heading up to Estes Park- a scenic mountain town sitting at 2300 meters above sea level. Higher than any point in the UK and a bit of change of scenery from the landscape of North Uist. Rehearsal started with long 12 hour practices, perfecting the moves ahead of the opening night. After 3 long days of rehearsal opening night brought the chance to preform alongside an International Pipes and Drum Set, the Dance Teams Feature Dance and the finale.

Keira has been dancing with Dochas Dancers, a dance school based across Uist and Barra since she was 9 and regularly makes the journey up to Stornoway or the mainland for competitions. As well as keeping her own skill up to scratch Keira is also an assistant teacher, taking classes in North Uist on Tuesdays and Fridays. She is working currently towards her associate exam will make her a fully qualified dance teacher.

Good luck with your dancing Kiera!